Vietnam: Mass demonstration to defense the Church – Police severely beat Hanoi Catholics

JB. AN DANG

VietCatholic News (Thứ Sáu 25/01/2008 05:42)
Hanoi – Furious at a government refusal to hand the former office of the apostolic delegation back, more than two thousands lay people of Hanoi archdiocese, carried Crosses to the site where they prayed, chanted and sang. Later, some were beaten and detained by security force.


Traffic came to a halt in Hanoi today when more than two thousands priests, religious and faithful went in procession from Saint Joseph cathedral to the building that once housed the apostolic delegation and is currently being used by the government for commercial gains with its garden turned into a parking lot for officials.

The protest which lasted from 9 to 10 am was followed by another protest after the Mass celebrated for the 89th birthday of Card Paul Joseph Phạm Đình Tụng, former archbishop of Hanoi (The archdiocese of Hanoi officially celebrated his birthday today. On January 10, there was a similar Mass celebrated by priests from other dioceses).

In the second protest, some H’mong Catholic women climbed over the gate to bring flowers to a Pieta Virgin Mary statue inside the building where they confronted with the security force. Despite peaceful explanations of the women, security officials attacked them with baton, kicks and cuffs. In an attempt to rescue the women, protestors standing outside the building broke the gate, poured into the garden, and clashed with the security personnel.

The protestors took control the building for a while long enough to put up a large Cross in the garden of the building.

The security force was reinforced by nearby police units. Police took control the building, arrested and detained some protestors. Lawyer Lê Quốc Quân, a Catholic activist, was among the detained.

Today’s protest is the strongest challenge to the communist government not only due to its large scale but also due to the fact that it occurred just a few days after local authorities accused the archbishop of “using freedom of religion to provoke protests against the government” and thus “damaging relations between Vietnam and the Vatican,” and threatened that a crackdown was likely.

A local source reported that police is hunting down those who actively involved in today’s protest.

J.B. An Dang

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